Wednesday, April 10, 2013

We're Not Homeschooling Series Part 3





Thank you for joining me on my last day musing on education.  For those just joining I’ve already shared my personal experiences and local learning scene in Part 1 and a few counterarguments of popular homeschooling arguments in Part 2.  But today I get to my point.

I purposefully left out a few counterarguments and didn’t touch on a few subjects in Part 2 because I feel today covers the rest of the issue.

 "As parents we know our child the best. We need to help foster the creativity in them."

I believe I owe my positive educational experience largely to my family.  It was because of them that even when bored with a subject I understood that what I was doing each day was worth while.  It was because of them that I never felt sad to be away from the home during the day.  It was because of them that I got through the worst my bullies could give me.  It was because of them that I understood that it was okay not to follow “the norm” in my actions and my opinions.  It was because of them that I understood that learning was not something that started at 8 a.m. and ended at 3:30, Monday thru Friday and only from September thru May.  

 "Every day is an opportunity to learn. I am teaching when I am cooking. I am teaching when I am putting on my make up. I am teaching when I folding laundry. Children ask tons of questions listen to them and try to answer them because they are always wanting to learn!"


Involvement, particularly from parents/guardians, is key.

Even though I know we will be using the public system I don't believe that my responsibility ends at the bus stop - rather, the school is a place I utilize to teach my child certain things and my home is a place used to teach the rest.  I believe the core responsibility for preparing my children for the world lies with me and my husband - a school, no matter in the home or outside of it, is just one of the many tools we'll use to attain this goal.
Knowing that we will be using our local public or private schools allows us time to prepare to be such parents.  There are many risks that we take with this decision – the public school system still has some big problems and needs a lot of work to meet the growing needs of a changing student population, but we understand that being involved and concerned parents is part of the process.  We understand that as public schooling parents :
  • We have a responsibility to provide a home environment that encourages creativity and learning.
  • We have a responsibility to model and explain our personal beliefs, morals and expectations.
  • We have a responsibility to be available and supportive as our children experience difficult situations and a variety of opinions, beliefs and actions.
  • We have a responsibility to make every moment available for quality family time count.
  • We have a responsibility to be aware of our children’s needs and whether or not they’re being met in whatever grade or school they are in.
  • We have a responsibility to support good teachers so they can continue to do their work to the best of their ability and be whistle-blowers when they’re not.
  • We have a responsibility to keep our children busy enough to stay out of trouble and challenged, but not so busy that they have no time to be children.
  • We have a responsibility to encourage imagination, creative thinking and a love of learning.

We might be deciding to send our children to be educated by others, but that does not mean our job is complete – far from it in fact.

 "We do interpretive dance parties when I am cooking. We have a giant map above our couch and the girls are always asking where a country is, where an animal is from, how long would it take to get some place. After dinner we have been playing a game where we act out an animal and everyone has to guess what it is. I love it."

    Just because our children will go to public school it doesn't mean we can't make our home an educational one.  We can do Waldorf crafts on weekends, set up Montessori inspired practical life stations at home, take Charlotte Mason booklists to the library, supplement learning with online resources,  do afterschooling in creative ways, and participate in educational clubs and camps during the summers. We organize vacations so we maximize our children's exposure to culture and history.  We can get out into nature and just be at home with no obligations.  There are so many ways to make sure that we are educating at home even if we're not home 100% of the time.

    What does this mean for our family? - It means we're going forward in our preschool years with confidence that public school, if it is right for our children, will be a good experience.  We're confident that we know our own goals and aspirations for our children and feel comfortable that a public or private school experience can be a part of all the grand things we hope our children achieve in their lives.  In the next year we'll be entering into the preschool time and will be using our daycare which adds preschool to it's daily routine as the children age, but not seeking out a more formal preschool experience unless we feel it's necessary.  At home we plan on utilizing a basic preschool curriculum (like Twenty-Six Letters to Heaven: A Catholic Preschool Curriculum ) to inspire our from home learning and exploration - our biggest plan for the coming years is to solidify our home as a place which fosters a love of learning in any form.  I look forward to taking advantage of half day kindergarten to ease our transition into formal school and after that, who knows?  I look forward to updating you as we go along.

    In the end, as many commenters have said over the last few days - involvement is key when using a public or private school system; in fact, the teacher want you to be involved!  If you have come here because you feel alone in your choice of education or you find yourself in a situation of choosing public school even if it's not your first choice - don't worry..... It's Not the End of the World.


    *All quotes are from a great correspondence with my dear friend Jamie over her experiences with her oldest daughter in public school*

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    4 comments:

    1. Public school is what you make of it. My mom used to come into my classes as a "room mom" in grade school to help out. My parents always showed interest in my schoolwork and grades but, more importantly, also worked to enrich my siblings and I at home. Balance is key. :)

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    2. As you know I am very passionate about education. "All the world's a stage." I would say all the world's a classroom. Opportunities to teach our children are everywhere!

      Being involved is definitely key. I am a PTA board member and a classroom mom. My face is well known at the school. I get feedback from other teachers that interact with Sasha during the day and I always know how Sasha is doing. It is nice. The feedback helps me at home to know if she is having any troubles or where she is excelling.

      The best thing is if you feel private or public school isn't for your child we are allowed to switch! Even mid year! We are lucky to live some place where we have many options for how to educate our children.

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    3. YOu make some good points here. But even if time is limited in afternoons and weekends (believe me, the older they get, the harder it is to have a weekend hour or two for crafts, or educational outings...) being involved can be as easy as discussing school and homework and activities in school with your children, or e-mailing the teachers to get feedback on your student....you know, not waiting for conferences and the like. Also, I have been on the PTO board -- I do NOT have time for that. I'm currently on our school board, but the meetings are much better run (i.e., stick to the hour they are planned) and there's not too much outside of decision making involved. When you have enough kids in the school, like we do, you have no choice but to be involved, be seen and be asked to do almost any and everything. WE basically live at school at times during the school year, but we wouldn't have it any other way.

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    4. Yeah, but you would have thought by my parent's reaction that it was the end of the world when we told them we were putting the boys in public school! Lord have mercy.

      Then I became Roman Catholic.

      Which goes to show you should always hold something in reserve when you throw a fit as a parent, otherwise the you won't have anything to pull out for the next catastrophic decision your child makes as an adult.

      I am being somewhat sarcastic. Laugh or weep, 'tis true.

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